November 12, 2013

Commit to Purity

For a few weeks now, my pastor has been preaching a sermon series based on the letters to the churches in Revelation.  Yesterday, the sermon's focus was on the letter written to the church at Pergamum (Rev 2:12-17).  The people of that city were participating in idol worship, sexual deviance, and the like.  And the church was coming right alongside - jumping straight into the fires of sin like all the rest.  In short, the letter was a harsh rebuke to a community of professing believers who were living anything-but-Christlike lifestyles.
 

My pastor shared some statistics with our congregation showing that America's claim-to-be-Christians choose to sin just as frequently as those who do not claim Christ.  In fact, he thinks that American "believers" most closely mirror those at the church of Pergamum (rather than the "lukewarm" church of Laodicea, as most think), and I tend to agree.  By and large, our country's churchgoers have subscribed to a "cultural Christianity" wherein they say they are Christians but don't live truly changed lives.  Among the many stats shared was a very disheartening albeit believable statement: 88% of teens who make "True Love Waits" (TLW) pledges to save sex for marriage...DON'T.

Now, I realize that "kids will be kids" and all...but kids that claim Christ and make a VOW to purity are falling away by the droves.  This hurts my heart.  A lot.

I have taught sexual purity to youth for more than 15 years now.  I started out with the TLW curriculum, like everyone else.  In seasons when I found it to be a bit lacking in depth, I didn't just give it up entirely...I mean, this is an important issue!  I simply moved to a more "Bible only"-based approach.  And I've seen a lot of success.  During my own single years, I was invited into many accountability relationships with other young women who (like myself) were choosing to make abstinence commitments.  For me and for them, true love DID wait.  And we are all still blessed to be married to the godly men that waited with us.  

But I realize that my TLW experience is not the norm.  

In light of my pastor's sermon, I did some research on the history of the TLW campaign.  I also did some research related to its 88% fail rate, and I found it in a peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Adolescent Health (2005). 

This is truly tragic.  Granted, 99% of youth who make NO abstinence pledge have sex before marriage...but the church is only 11% behind that staggering worldly total.  

While my pastor's sermon on Pergamum pricked my heart to commit more fully to God in so many personal ways, it also stoked the already blazing fire in my heart to teach youth the importance of committing to sexual purity before marriage.  

So for all you young people out there who already thought I harped on modesty, purity, and the beauty of waiting too much...get ready for even more.  I would say "I'm sorry," but I'm not.  Christ calls us to live lives of holiness.  Being sexually pure is only ONE area of holiness that He calls us to.  1 Peter 1:15-16 (ESV) challenges us: "But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.' "

And lest you think I am a total prude who is super-judgmental toward others who have stumbled...that could not be further from the truth.  I have stumbled.  Heck, we ALL have stumbled.  In MANY ways.  And God is a God of forgiveness.  If you have failed in the area of sexual purity, you can be clean again in Christ.  If your virginity was taken from you by force, and you were sinned against by another - you are not to blame, and you can still reclaim your purity in the Lord. 

Let today be the day we all commit to purity and holiness...in any area the Word of God commands.  And let us strive to encourage and hold one another accountable to those commitments. 

 Hear It, Use It {Link-Up}
~ This post is part of the "Hear It, Use It" {Link-Up}. ~

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